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How To Install Custom Windows XP Themes

xp_theme


Learn How To:
  • Enable Third-Party Theme Support on Windows XP
  • Change your Windows XP Theme, Sounds, Cursor and Fonts

This tutorial will show you how to download, install and use custom Windows XP Themes – essentially you will learn to take that boring old XP interface and give it an exciting makeover. Some programs like WindowBlinds used to make this easy, but since that application no longer supports XP, we’re forced to do it the hard way – but in doing so we’ll also have a greater degree of control over how the interface will look, and it’s also more fun!

1. Download UXTHEME from Softpedia
First, download UXTHEME Patcher from Softpedia. This is a necessary program that allows you to patch uxtheme.dll so XP will recognize custom themes. Note: Be sure to back up this file just in case! I’ve tried running this under XP Service Pack 2 and it made the computer run on a permanent restart loop. If this happens, enter XP using Safe Mode, save your files and reinstall the OS. On SP3 I’ve encountered no problems.

The file is virus-free, by the way!

2. Run The Program
Open the UXTHEME program, run it and restart XP.

3. Download Some Custom XP Themes
This is a fantastic site to download custom themes – www.thepcmanwebsite.com/themes/ – you don’t need to register, it doesn’t force you to install a third-party installer and it’s all free!

4. Extract & Activate Custom Themes
Make sure you extract into C:\WINDOWS\Resources\Themes, then right click on your desktop, click Properties and activate your new theme. Feel free to tinker with it on Appearance / Advanced.

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5. Download IconTweaker – See Picture Above
This isn’t mandatory but you’ll love it – IconTweaker is a free program that lets you change most major icons on your OS. It comes with several in-built icon packages as well! Also, you can download quite a great deal of free icons at findicons.com – make sure you grab .ico files.

6. Customize Your Mouse Cursor
A simple Google search will yield many mouse cursor packs, and I’ve found a great share on DeviantArt. To change your mouse cursor, go to Control Panel / Mouse / Pointers and go crazy! Cursor files are normally stored in C:\WINDOWS\Cursors.

7. Customize Your Fonts
Fonts are easy to download, and sites like www.dafont.com have many of them, all for free. Simply extract the fonts in your C:\WINDOWS\Fonts directory, and apply your new fonts by going to your desktop, opening Display Properties and goint to Appearance / Advanced. If you have a large font library, consider using a free font viewer, such as Opcion Font Viewer, which is my favorite.

8. Customize Your Sounds
Go to Control Panel / Sounds and Devices / Sounds to change your system sounds, or you can turn them off. You can use standard wav files from anywhere on your system, but it’s good to store them in C:\Windows\Media. You can find lots of free sounds at www.soundjay.com, but if you’re clever you can also grab various menu sound effects from old games – most use standard .wav format, which XP can recognize.

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